Wine Lover's France - A Guide to Provence Wines
With over 300 days of sun and a mild climate, the region of Provence has, quite possibly, some of the best weather for a cooking vacation. But this wonderful climate also provides the ideal conditions for grape growing and winemaking, which is why the Greeks began to grow grapes in this vibrant southern France region in 600 BC. Today, Provence is not only the oldest winemaking region, but it also produces the fourth most wine in the entire country.
Of Provence wines, the rosés are the best known, and understandably so. The vineyards here, many family-run, produce 88% rosé wine, and just 9% red and 3% white. As is the case in most of France, all of these wines pair well with the food of the region. In Provence that means you'll be enjoying your crisp rosé with rustic Mediterranean fare, from stews and hearty meats to tapenades and stuffed vegetables.
While rosés have long been predominant, the diverse soil types in Provence's nine AOC regions lends itself to a variety of wines and blends. From the mountains and lavender fields, to the limestone soil in the west and granite soil in the east, every wine appellation has its own unique attributes. For example, the grapes found in Coteaux d'Aix en Provence wines, produced near Aix-en-Provence, are affected by the Mistral winds, which are strong and dry. Meanwhile, the rugged terrain of Les Baux de Provence — home to our cooking vacation Culinary Delights of Provence — lends itself to hearty grapes that produce red wines such as Syrah, Granache, and Cabernet Sauvignon, to name a few.
In the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, including our cooking program Cooking Passport to Provence, Bandol wines continue to grow in popularity. These Provence wines are typically made with Mourvèdre grapes that thrive in sandy and limestone soils, and are often grown on steep hillsides. While there are some white Bandol varieties, it's the full-body reds that have really coming into their own due to their earthy, crisp, and mineral qualities.
Clearly the wines are different in every part of Provence. That means you have every excuse to return to this stunning region to discover all the wines — and food — Provence has to offer. Explore the wines grown around Avignon with our Terroir, Touring, and Tasting trip, or perhaps discover the "home" of the most rosé wines, Tavel, with our Provencal Adventure.
For the full list of Provence cooking vacation options, be sure to visit our website.
By Liz Hall